“The power is an illusion” – AOC

I want to build up an image for you…

There is a school, with on average two hundred and fifty students, teachers, teaching assistants, caretakers, administration staff and of course the headteacher and deputy.

Imagine then, this school has a number of naturally excelling students who need little support. Then you’ve got children who need a bit more support and children who need consistent support. What happens when the headteacher says “I want only the students who excel to receive rewards for their work.” they have instantly created as divide among the school. Does this now mean that the children who require more support will be less motivated and lack confidence? Quite possibly. Now imagine, the teaching assistants resources have been limited, not only can’t they recommend rewards but they are being directed to split their time with other students who do not need support, in order to back up the students who are excelling.

In reality, a school like this would be called out to be dysfunctional, unequal and in the most extreme terms, corrupt. Just by writing this last sentence, my mind has sparked images of so many establishments, countries and governments.

We may have already heard of the corruption within African countries, today I want to talk about a beautiful country called the Democratic Republic of Congo. This country represents every kind of energy, the energy of love, suffering, culture, physical and mental. Once you have experienced this culture, you see what true patriotism is. My extended family are from DRC and when I say extended, I now have family in France, Belgium, Africa, the UK and USA. My children will have so many opportunities to travel and experience the diversity of their heritage.

How does a country with so much energy be exploited by the rest of the world? DRC is one of the richest countries in the world, it powers this laptop, it powers the phone you are reading this on and it has beautiful treasures that we can only imagine. The depth of the land, the vast ground holding so much potential that just needs to be left alone by the unwanted help. Surely we all understand that it is easy to look like a do gooder if we change the narrative of what’s actually going on and turn it into a more pleasing story for the westerners. I can’t count the amount of time I’ve spent fiercly discussing with my husband the changes that need to be made. I said so many time, the DRC government is corrupt, it’s got no solid foundation because of the past… this is the narrative I’ve been told by so many appeal shows on my UK TV.

Yes, many men, women and children are suffering world wide as a consequence of dysfunctional governments but do we stop there and accept that as the overriding reason? Obviously the information of what is really going on will not be handed over to us by Google that simply. Neither would visiting the areas where the landscape is being torn apart give us much more than a devastating insight into the hard work and unfit working conditions and pay the workers receive. This isn’t some conspiracy, it’s a reality that is ongoing. As the AOC said “the power is an illusion” until we start looking further into the roots and breaking that down, the face value of these international stories will continue to deceive us.

There is no quick fix for any of this, but I believe we have to start by educating ourselves, emerging our families into other cultures, understanding the ways of our neighbours and most importantly making sure the youngest members of society know that their voice has power. Their skills and character have the potential to impact communities and comfortable governments who lack definition.

Part time work and Motherhood

Part time work and Motherhood seem to go hand in hand in this generation and those part time jobs are not always suited to the skills of the woman in that role. Do we open our eyes a little bit wider to see that actually, many women are being undermined in the workplace because they are seen as the primary carer for their children and require flexibility?


At 27, I have spent many of my years as a Mum being told that I will have plenty of time when the kids grow up to do what I want. In all honesty, now is the time I was to progress, now is the time I want the equal opportunities to earn that better wage and for it to fit around my family. And do you know what, I know I can do it because I worked 32 hours a week walking around a hospital ans then returned home to two children, all while heavily pregnant. I’m now on the sick because the rigid nature of my work place has torn me apart. I questioned family or work? So many times and my answer has not changed, I want both.

People are always going to procreate and family costs money, so I will need to work. But it’s not just about the money, its embracing the diversity of our abilities, the skills we have gained from school and from motherhood, we have so much to offer to so many different roles. On many occasions I’ve heard Mothers being described as individuals who pour out love and sacrifice their own wants and needs… Sounds like an angel. In the right context I agree with this statement (I’m not talking about sacrificing nights out for multiple orders of milk and story books), we give up a lot of things we would have done if we didn’t have children and that’s personal to each individual. I challenge the reassurance that “you’ll have plenty of time when your kids have grown up”. Actually I want my sons and daughters to see Mummy sat at the table with a pile of books. I want them to see me balancing life with bags under my eyes. I want them to see me jump up and down when I get that job I’ve worked so hard for. I want them to see the better days when we’ve spent the last month scraping the barrel in order to pay the rent. Why do I have to wait until they have left home to display to them the realities of life. I need them to see what type of person their Mum is because one day they will look back on these every day moments and understand a little bit about who they are and what they are capable of.

Now
I want to ask you, how do we move forward with gender equality?
How do we make it possible for families to care for their loved ones but also have a job that is fulfilling personally and financially?

For as long as our bodies are living, so is our mental health.

According to the NHS, 1 in 10 women in the UK suffer with postnatal depression within the first year of having a baby. The evidence shows that this is an issue impacting many women but I really struggle to put a timescale on postnatal depression. I believe that pregnancy, birth and being Mum presents experiences that can be traumatic on many levels and prompt ongoing feelings of anxiety and depression. We also have to factor in hereditary conditions and personal circumstances external to motherhood.

Postnatal depression is indeed a prevalent condition for this generation but I believe many women feel safe holding on to the diagnosis of ‘postnatal depression’ because it presents the idea that eventually it will come to an end and like any other physical injury it will heal over time. This is the narrative I used to tell myself about my own experience of being a Mum, yet 8 years down the road I have come to the realisation that in fact I do suffer with depression. From a young age, I remember moments where I struggled to understand why people had such a big problem with my shyness and quiet nature. The consistent unintentional attack on my character gave me a complex that was hard to shake off. Every social situation I entered into, I anticipated people to view me as a shy individual who had nothing to say and would have limited opportunities because people would not want to invest time in understanding me.

As sad as this story may sound, today I am a proud quiet natured person who enjoys speaking my mind when I know it is relevant and beneficial for myself or others. Unfortunately I am left with a number of experiences that stay in their place in my memory, reminding me of how I felt when people pointed me out, the embarrassment and the judgement can be recalled.

The same way, when the midwife told me “to get up and take responsibility” as my 20 year old self tried to snooze and understand the dynamics of feeding and caring for my first baby. The judgement and tone of her voice tore through my sensitive, prone to anxiety and sadness type of character. These examples of mine are mild and at times quite amusing, but there are moments that will wipe me out and turn my attempts to sleep a time for distress and tears as I recall the traumas.

When we try to define our mental health, just like in school we are looking for the right group for us to fit in to. The group that sounds most like is, the group that is most welcoming. We have to understand that our time is never up, we do not have to define ourselves by our current circumstances. Look left and right, see how our traumas of the past and hope’s for the future are effecting us today. Our stories are wealthy in education, the past is gone but the emotions very much live on.

Do not be afraid of seeking further help from your support systems, do not be afraid of judgement. Whether you are returning to work or to the playground, it is no ones business to tell you how long you should be suffering with postnatal depression for. The timescale for mental health is non existent, for as long as our bodies are living, so is our mental health.

Take some time to think about mental health and what it means to you. How do you define your mental health, is it by a diagnosis, is it by your personal understanding? Whatever your experience is, start a process of accepting that there will be ups and downs, people may judge and say hurtful things but these things only see you for face value. Your mental health story holds so much richness, so much value and during lifes spinning wheel things will be rough and smooth, we will be small but develop as more substance (experience) is added.

Claiming Joy, Renouncing FOMO

Yes it is nearly Christmas. Whether you celebrate it because of beliefs or tradition, we all seem to hold this sense of anticipation from November onwards. I wonder if this is the excitement of good times ahead, prospects of a fresh new year or just the warmth of childhood memories. Whatever it is, for alot of people this time of year is much anticipated.

As I prepare for Christmas, I seem to be making more and more excuses to do the things that bring me joy. I am a total winter bird, everything about Autumn and Winter brings me gooey feelings of romance and warmth. So, why is it I still find myself asking Google “when to put up Christmas decorations”, seeking confirmation of when I should allow myself joy, from a search engine. I instinctively know that October is too early for our family but the second week of November I get an urge to cozy up and have a tree in my living room.

Last year, I was heavily pregnant in November and due the week before Christmas, so I had already given myself the go ahead to buy presents and decorate early. This year I find myself exploring a variety of excuses. My top two are: after this year of pandemic, we need a joyful environment and we owe it to the baby who spent last Christmas day onwards in hospital.

Why am I making excuses for accessing joy? Why am I looking to others for confirmation?

Decorations aside, this is a lesson I want to hold on to from now on. When we wait on life to bring us joy, our expectations grow and we miss the precious moments of joy that pass us every day. I find that with a full on routine with family and work, I was missing out on joy in the most basic moments. In my earlier years of motherhood I felt entitled to bonuses and time off (as if paid employment) and if I didn’t access these benefits, I would feel distressed and throw a adult tantrum. It is true, the more children you have; the more of your time is taken up but you become an expert of your own needs and the needs of your family. This, for me is an area where I am gifted with the greatest satisfaction. Just to know that no one has experienced my children and my husband like I have, no one can feel the pain or the joy that has moulded me into the person I am today.

With great happiness, I’m claiming the joy of motherhood and renouncing FOMO (fear of missing out)!

Protect your story, nuture your mental health.

Mental health, it is a subject that is prevalent within motherhood. Whether you’re a Grandmother, Mother, Aunt or just know one, there’s no denying that mental health problems have existed in motherhood for generations.

During my time training in family therapy, I felt extremely drawn to the power of telling a story in a secure setting. Our mental health is so precious and it worries me that people’s mental health is exposed to all the elements of today’s society. Imagine it like this, our hearts are protected by skin, muscle and rib cage. It’s not part of us we see, but when we expose ourselves to stress; that physical core of us often experiences tension and palpitations which are not part of the normal functioning of our hearts. But when we safely understand our own limitations; some stress can motivate us to move onwards.

The same goes for our mental health, when we expose our emotions and story to the elements of social media, work colleagues or even that family member who thinks mental health is just being happy or sad, we expose alot more than we first think. The truth is, some people just don’t care and you will feel this when you pour your heart out, only to get a one word response or respond abusively.

Bringing awareness to mental health is really important for this generation and the next, but do not expose your story to a world who may just disregard your experience because that poses the risk of becoming your narrative.

Your story is your treasure. It is the experience that made you the person you are today and naturally you will be an example to the next generation. Feeling secure in our own mental health, we should find the processes that will work for us individually and this probably will change from time to time, but treat your mental health with care. Patients in hospital do not have a public audience commentating on their illness and recovery; they have nurses, doctors, support staff and family caring and nurturing the physical needs.

Bring awareness to mental health, process it carefully, use time and reliable sources. See that broken bridge in front of you, see the tools at your side and work alone or together to get to the other side. Then you will look back and can say “yes, you can see the new ground I have laid, you can see where the bad and good have joined but I’m here now. If I walk back and forth over this bridge, my experience will stand strong”


Fussy eater or not

When my son was two, he would only eat rice cakes and apples and bananas and grapes and carrots and oranges and mangoes and the list could go on. He was pretty much Peter Rabbit.

From the outside I was proud of his preferences but after a while I had this fear that something was wrong (saying that now makes me giggle). My eldest daughter definitely ate more meals, she definitely had snacks, she definitely drank lots of water…

And there is the problem.

Have you ever tried one of these diets that “will suit your lifestyle”, are easy to follow and accessible for all. Well I certainly have. They really work wonders once you’ve studied the diet, understood the rules and been inspired by other customer experiences. This may be different for individuals but for me, I can only follow a diet for so long and then I become an unruly member who wants to cook fried chicken and rice and peas from scratch. For me, I struggle to pull back from my need to cook creatively or satisfy my craving for certain foods!

This is in no way an anti diet post but it’s a call to analyse and understand our own perspective on eating habits, especially when it comes to our children. It’s taken me seven years to figure out that actually children don’t like rules. They are born as an unique individual who develop their own taste by trial and error… but eventually they become three-nangers who know who they are, what they like and what they want. As a Mum it’s part of our make up to want our children to be nourished – after all that’s how they grow physically and mentally. For us, this stage can be challenging and often cause a phase of anxiety that is unpredictable and can inevitably reflect onto our children.

In hope of releasing some of this anxiety that I know many Mamas deal with. I want to ask, do the recipe books for babies really help or do they create a barrier between your eating and your child’s. It’s essential that we educate ourselves with what babies can and can’t eat and at what age, for safety purposes. But if we step back and recognise the anxieties related to our childrens eating, we begin the process of trusting our own instinct and put the books away for a rainy day. Most importantly we cease trying make our children walk the same path as their siblings.

Preferences are always going to change, so let’s not get too attached to those go-to’s but also let’s maintain a discipline by limiting the amount of options we offer. After all “Mummy’s house is not a restaurant”

Half term for Mums

We are now coming to the end of half term, it’s been seven days of rain, seven days of tantrums, seven days of “I need a snack” immediately after a meal. To top it all off we’re currently in lockdown and with the prospect of two inset day…(two!!) I am frazzled.

But despite all of this, yesterday we had one window of dry weather. I chucked clothes on the kids and we ran over to the park, which was the same idea of many other families in the area. I have to be honest, with three kids I’m past that point of being eager to make Mum friends at the park but just being around other human beings and having brief conversations we realise we need social interaction to survive this.

Being outside in nature is also essential and when I say nature I do mean the road side path on our return from Lidl. All four of us looked up and saw these magnificent trees that we had not noticed before. We collected pine cones to decorate and spoke about what little christmas character decorations we could produce from these common treasures found on cars and the pine grass.

We all have different coping mechanisms for times of stress, some of us are extremely disciplined when it comes to dealing with stress… others of us lack motivation. Whatever person you find yourself to be, don’t be restricted by the pressures that we hold in our chests. Like ripping off a plaster, close your eyes and run into the opportunity to be outside with no plan or expectations. Always have a coat with pockets, with a bottle of hand sanitizer and water for the kids. No baggage, no concerns about forgetting something. Survive a mini outing with minimal resources, this will train you to let go of a few minor concerns. Nature heals and so does incorporating doable activities into the daily routine, this could be as simple as putting your phone or washing up down and singing silly songs with the kids for 10 minutes. The kids will probably want to do activities all day or evening then but don’t be ashamed to pause and explain that it’s time to move on to something else now. We need to manage our own limits and similarly teach our children to manage theirs.

Right to education, right to life

With many parents across the world currently homeschooling their children, we are exposed to the great responsibility of teachers; this is to provide a high standard of education to our children and young people. While touching base with my daughters school teacher over the phone, the delight of speaking to a fellow adult had never been so prominent! I’d been waiting for this moment, the moment to confess… that in fact, my homeschooling knees had given way by day 4. Like a deer in the head lights I was stunned by the fantastic array of activities that were to be completed, all were socially, ethically and academically sound. But wait, where are the books full of mathematics and handwriting practice that would occupy my inquisitive six year old while I sat with heavy eyes, bagfuls of postnatal anxiety and a luke warm cup of tea. This was never going to work.
After my brief confession, I covered for my daughter as her teacher complimented how enthusiastic she was to engage and learn. Well, let’s just say she is fully engaged with a bunch of cheesy Netflix series and has learnt an extremely irritating game called the ‘pause challenge’. The truth is, my beautifully unique daughter is indeed enthusiastic but her Mother is not. Thankfully I was reminded by her school teacher that “they won’t remember how much work they did or why they did it, but the positive memories we make with them will be something they keep forever”. However corny that may sound, it’s completely spot on and should be the motto for parents worldwide. So thank you Mrs Google, Miss YouTube and Mr Netflix, you have yet again saved this millennial Mums arse. While this experience is both challenging and frustrating for all of us, we can’t underestimate the importance of the education we can give our children. By sending them to school, extra curriculum clubs and by creating a safe home environment we can be sure that they will have a positive start in life.
Among my rumbles about having to home school, I’ve become so much more aware of how fortunate we are in the UK.

We are able to offer many opportunities and options when it comes to our children’s (even our own) education and social life. I recently watched a TED talk by human rights protector Rabiaa El Garani, who described her story of investigating the atrocious crimes committed by ISIS against the Yazidis, a community of people based in Northern Iraq.
The way she described the experience of these people was vivid; although I don’t believe words could ever describe the devastation these communities face. Delving deeper into this, the individuals who are involved have no control over their destiny, education is just a dream. As a Mother in one of these communities the unimaginable emotions and anger that must weigh over them would bring any one to their knees. Children are born into corruption, where having options in education, career prospects and life choices are extremely limited/non existent.
Every child has the right to an education and in many countries it is a given that no one falls through the net, but not everywhere. The mental and physical pain parents and children go through just to fight for their communities and lives is relentless. So, before we question our governments “when can the kids go back to school?” why not treasure the endless supply of educational resources we have, this is more than just books; it’s the people around us and the opportunities that are there for the taking; opportunities to speak up and be heard. Let’s be zealous about what good may come of this pandemic, whether it’s by personal growth, a new found love for community spirit or just recognising the importance of being able to connect with others. Pray for those communities around the world, where freedom is being wiped out. Pray that they never give up the fire that keeps them pushing forward every day. Finally, let’s be consistent in reflecting on the fact that uncertainty or certainty of peril is an everyday feeling for these beautiful individuals. Whatever ‘pray’ means to you, we must unify in thought and action to hold up the weak; a true international community.

Our words may be small and may even be over looked but someone somewhere is listening.

Photo by Valeriia Miller

Simple steps to rest

After a non stop day and a non stop evening, the biggest favour you can do yourself is aim for the simple things. We all know that feeling of lugging ourselves up the stairs to bedfordshire, wishing for the kids to be neatly tucked up in bed ready for a full night sleep, instead we enter the battlefield. Bedding, toys, cups, paper and books everywhere, the moment the kids realise that they do actually have stuff to play with and all of sudden they have to read, do that puzzle or writing for school. The angelic Mum in me says “These are precious moments, opportunities to let the kids express themselves” but more often than not the dragon Mum in me blows an imaginary whistle telling the prisoners to get back to their cells. Okay maybe that is a bit harsh, but in reality we all have to draw a line under the activities of the day by letting go of that Mum guilt and allow time for recuperation.
After battling with the kids, my husband is already catching some Z’s before his night shift. At this stage it is all too easy for me to just fall into bed like someone has got me with a tranquilizer. But the house is the quietest its been all day and I could do something really productive like watch that episode of Our Girl while Googling ‘Join the Army’ and swiftly agreeing that it’s probably a bad idea as I may lose my glasses in combat. We can waste our time on so many irrelevant things that in that moment we believe is the right thing to do in order to focus on ourselves.

The world has so much to offer to help us get a better night sleep and we are surrounded by dreamy celebrity nighttime routines, but how often do we start those routines only to see it as another chore? There’s no shame in accepting that a 10 step routine is just too long! unless going to the toilet is counted? which I might add is an excellent opportunity for that peace and quiet we all crave… unless the kids are still awake, then you’re just on your porcelain stage and they’re all clapping. This is not toilet humour, but reality people. Continuing…
Overtime I’ve learnt that the best rest comes not just when I’m sleeping but in the moments of peace beforehand. The call of bed is strong to me, I’ve always been a woman who needs her sleep but I make an effort now to at the very least cleanse my face and moisturise it before sleep. I can rest easy then that I wont awake to a face of smudged mascara… asking my reflection “did we go out last night??”. Rest is more than just sleep, so however many things you could be doing it’s vital that we stop and remind ourselves that if we wind down to bed, we often gain better quality sleep and therefore gain a tad more energy for the day ahead. You can check out my top tips for good rest below.

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My top tips for getting that good good rest are:

  1. Don’t overwhelm yourself with beauty products, just have the everyday essentials in clear view (save face masks, hair removal, conditioning etc for another opportunity for self care).
  2. Keep a pack of cleansing wipes next to your bed, just in case. I use Simple Biodegradable facial wipes, they’re mild on the skin and the environment! Good feels before sleep.
  3. Learn a few basic facial techniques (I often find slapping myself in the face a couple times before bed to be quite relaxing) In all seriousness, it makes me slow down and become mindful of how my body is feeling.
  4. Have a hot drink, I just love a good cup of English tea but I occasionally enjoy some warm/hot milk with grated nutmeg and cinnamon mixed in.
  5. Do a few basic stretches just to shake that day off.

    (Please check with your Dr if you’re unsure if any of this is suitable, especially if you’re pregnant).

Welcome, Croeso, Bienvenue, Karibu!

I have always been an individual who finds writing down my thoughts on paper to be extremely satisfying. Being an introvert, I have only ever done it for my own focus and progress. Now, I’m ready to share…
I can recall when my husband and I first lived together, I wrote him a letter explaining my thoughts and feelings after a very childish but important argument that we had. I have to be honest, that was the last letter I wrote to him! He was confused by the whole experience and as I read the letter back to myself, I felt the intensity in my words. Despite this rocky moment between my husband and I, we have pushed beyond our own boundaries to respect one another’s ways of communicating. We have grown our own language where my pensive character and his zealous nature joins hands and puts us on an even keel to truly hear and understand each other.

As humans, it’s important for us to be heard and understood but in reality that won’t always be the case. Even so, we are a generation of dynamic communication; if we were to stop, sense, recognise more than just the words we hear; we may experience more opportunities to give and more to gain. Starting the blog, I am inspired by the community of ‘Mummy bloggers’ from all around the world, they offer a fantastic resource to the needs of Mama’s in this generation. I really hope that I can contribute and collaborate alongside my overall aim to help and inspire others. Expect topics such as: #MumLife, Motherhood from around the world, Female empowerment, Wellbeing and uplifting content.
So, it’s Welcome, Croeso, Bienvenue, Karibu from me and thank you always for reading, please comment and subscribe! I will be posting every Sunday.

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Speaks for itself